View Full Version : Spline patch?

sean hargreaves
07-09-2008, 09:57 PM
Where the heck is Spline Patch?

07-09-2008, 10:11 PM
Don't don't just don't Sean! Step away from the spline patch button.

Seriously, it is in your construction tab under patches.

But take a look at my thread (http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=83878&page=3) where I talk about spline patching, Just my opinion, but for what it is worth:

I have dropped spline modeling also because I think it is an old technology. I used it and box modeling in the past to make space vehicles and cars. In my opinion with current SDS technology there is simply no need for splines.

I have been modeling in LW (a poly based modeler) off and on for 15 years since the very first versions about 2 or 3.

This is how I watched the technology in LW Modeler develop.

1) Polygon Modeling.

In the very beginning you had some basic tools and you could do anything you wanted with these tools. I was fairly easy to create inorganic shapes in LW with a reasonable amount of ingenuity. I created many different objects this way. Inorganic shapes were still a bit of a challenge.

If you had non-planar polys you tripled. And if you did manage to create something more organic you could subdivide and tripled.

2) Then along came spline cadge modeling.

This created lots of polys in quads but now you could begin to create more organic shapes with some ingenuity by connecting parts of the cage together or in the case of a car make it in panels. That it created many polys was OK because you needed this to have a smooth transition. And since the next step was to subdivide and triple before you render this was OK. You needed lots of those little tris to make a smooth organic shape with detail.

3) Then along came Metaform subdivision. This is where the concept of box modeling came into use. This was the precursor to SDS modeling we have today. The concept was very similar. You can even take one of your SDS models, turn off Subpatch and run Metaform subdivision and see the similar results if you then also triple. Now the door was opened much wider in LW modeler for organic modeling. And again pretty much your ingenuity the only barrier. The draw back of course many many polygons. So then you could load up a low poly version and replace it with the high poly version at render time. if you had to have many objects in a scene.

You could also use spline modeling in conjunction with this and there were some other plugins available that are now replaced by rail extrude and multiple rail extrude.

4)The introduction of Subdivision Surfaces.

Now you could immediately see the smooth results from your quad mesh in real time in modeler as you worked your box model. Many tools made box modeling easier such as smooth shift and spinquads.

But this was also a complete shift in technology. Now layout did all the subdivision and tripling at render time. So we had two advantages. Real time feedback in modeler and a low res and dynamic high res object in one for layout.

But it also had another advantage. Now you are basically editing curves on your solid mesh in 3D! This really and effectively eliminates the need to spline patching. You can do just as much with the edge of a quad mesh as you can with the points on a spline. So if in the past you would drag points around on a curve. Well you can also drag the points around on one edge of your base mesh just the same in SDS.

But there is another advantage. In the time it takes you to draw out a spline, you can draw out an Ngon. You can then have this Ngon cover and area that will latter be bent into shape. You can also make a custom polyflow to fit the shape you are making in advance knowing exactly how it will come out. this is a huge time saver and your model comes out much more efficient. The key here is knowing your polyflow in advance.

So to me using spine patching and SDS modeling in conjunction is counter intuitive.

That is just me. That's my opinion after years of doing all of the above.

But I never discourage people from doing what works for them. And I think modeling as much as you can with as many different techniques is a very good thing. That I have come to this from my own experience is just that, my experience.

Take it for what you think it is worth.

07-10-2008, 12:07 AM
Check out one of my free videos:

07-10-2008, 07:55 AM
I still think they're great for smoothing out/rebuilding problem areas.

Like, if I'm making a shirt out of what was a nude torso, I can select all the belly button polys, delete them, make four splines along the inside edges, and patch it so I have the right number of polys left over. Weld the points along the edges and I get a far smoother, more accurate shape than I could by rebuilding the poly flow from an n-gon and dragging points around to match the soft curves I need.

It's also good if I've totally screwed up an area that should be smooth and simple. Like a cheek or the curve of a car hood.

07-10-2008, 08:30 AM
Two very cool uses! Thanks for the tips. :)

07-10-2008, 04:29 PM
I don't use spline patching, I use EasySpline from trueart.


It's completely interactive, so as you add splines, it builds the mesh for you. No more trying to figure out which way to draw splines, or patching then undoing, just add more splines or points to splines and see it change the geometry...

sean hargreaves
07-10-2008, 05:27 PM
$300 ???

07-10-2008, 06:49 PM
That's part of the modelling pack. You can buy it on its own for $75.

Mr Rid
07-10-2008, 08:23 PM
I remember once that a couple of us exhausted every other approach to a particular airplane fuselage, when good ole spline patch was the best solution.

07-11-2008, 02:28 PM
I use Amapi for spline patching and yeah you can all laugh you heads off but I tell you truthfully patching with uninterpolated splines that can be edited cut copied pasted and welded that only require good proximity to one another (not be physically welded together to work) is dynamite, far from being dead or an old technique past its usefulness it's very relevant and extremely useful. Outside of a full nurbs environment I've never been a big fan of interpolated anything, you model and you skin and thats it, regardless of the geometry used.

07-12-2008, 02:56 AM
I'd like to see some examples of your work and further explanations if you don't mind over on my thread about subD (http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=83878&page=3) if you don't mind. I'd love to truly get a perspective on this. I am always open other ideas and techniques. I do remember that app way back when it started. I messed with the trial for a while but never got into it. Would be very curious what you are doing with splines.

07-12-2008, 07:24 AM
Ive had the same experience with splines as Mr Rid.
I use them mainly as a layout tool for polys. Once the basic
mesh and flow are created I switch to subds.

07-12-2008, 11:41 AM
My biggest complaint about spline patching in Lightwave is that, because there's no "snap" option, getting the corners of the patches to align can be incredibly tedious. Another huge problem is that Modeler is layer-oriented rather than object-oriented, and that makes it impossible to select individual splines by name (unless I want to put each one on its own layer.)

I could go on. When I'm building forms that require that particular workflow, I create as much of the spline work as possible in Form Z and only use Lightwave for the final patching. Whatever inherent good or bad points spline patching might have as a modeling technique, I think it can be safely said that its implementation in Lightwave is pretty weak compared to many other 3D programs.

07-12-2008, 11:42 AM
Edit--Actually, if there IS a "snap" option in Modeler, I'd love to hear about it.

07-12-2008, 08:03 PM
You can use Snap Drag. Set it to connected points or point.

But with splines I usually just use weld.

Another trick is the Bezier spline. This makes a series of connected splines. You can set the number of points on the curves. Unfortunately it is global so no way to set it for each curve. But if you select "closed" it will make a closed spline. All you have to do is merge the last two points when you are done. This can work for some things.

07-12-2008, 08:47 PM
Ive had the same experience with splines as Mr Rid.
I use them mainly as a layout tool for polys. Once the basic
mesh and flow are created I switch to subds.

Yep same here, It's a great way to get a good shape in place and then you go into your poly subd modeling. Alot of people hate them but sometimes it really is the easiest way to get the shape you need.

07-12-2008, 09:48 PM
ctrl-g is snap move. You can move individual points (like drag) or connected points. It snaps to the nearest point.

You can name your splines as parts, or sketch colours. I have Change Part set to alt-q (because it's kind of like surfacing), and Change sketch colour to shift-alt-q.

07-12-2008, 11:35 PM
Once you see the light with subD modeling, you never have to go back. That is a general statement. It can not be an absolute, but if you really see the light, then it is definitely a statement of some truth.

Nothing wrong with having an arsenal of tools. Nothing wrong with using them in a particular situation.

But that is an entirely different situation than being stuck in a particular technology because you learned it well and since you don't know the newer technology as well, you assume that your method is more workable, only because it is familiar, when in fact it is not the fastest easiest (and most polygon efficient) way to do something.

The next level above subpatch modeling is sculpting. I am sure many modelers have abandoned many of the work flows they had in subD over sculpting and the freedom that that can bring.

That does not mean that these modelers never use Subd for other things or as starting points for sculpting.

So when a modeler who is relatively new comes along who is asking to how to do something I think it is a disservice to the modeler to not point out that certain technology has been surpassed by other faster more accurate and intuitive methods for modeling. The same would apply to planar mapping as opposed to UV mapping or even 3D painting. Does not mean you will never planar map something ever again or that it should be excluded from the LW tool set and labeled as "old and unnecessary". It is not. It has simply been surpassed in capability and scope of use by newer better ways of doing things.

That is the spirit in which I speak.

07-13-2008, 12:41 AM
Ummm, to be honest, your tone was the disservice to the modeler. There are cases when sub patches are a good way to start, preferable to subpatches. Subpatches are limit based, meaning they only approximate, approaching points as the mesh gets denser. Subpatches go through the points you place, which can be a more accurate way to get a particular shape. I myself might use easyspline to generate a boat hull, or other mechanical shape, before turning to subpatches to detail. ES is a superior technology to patching by hand or autopatcher. It is not superior to subpatches, just a different way to go.

07-13-2008, 01:56 AM
Well jeez! We can go back on forth over theory forever. I can honestly not think of a single situation where I would ever resort to spline patch modeling as a starting point for sub patches. I really can't.

I spent so much time showing examples of this I decided to make a tutorial so I could stop repeating myself. Kind of the same reason I started that Subpatch Modeling Workshop. The second reason was to have people stop by with their ideas even if they oppose mine, I don't care. I just want people to become better modelers. Even people like you who have been around awhile. You can learn still too you know, even from a new guy (to subpatches) like me. And it is my experience that I share, that is all. You are free to share yours too. That is the whole point. If you have some ideas, please stop over and post them with examples if you don't mind. You know it is entirely possible I am overlooking something. I always keep that open as an option even when I am fairly certain about something. I am not combative. I always embrace peoples opinions. But also if I have the time and the gumption to do it, I may show how I think I have a better way to do something. And I think having a positive attitude about what I am teaching is a good thing. I don't have a problem pointing someone away from something when some good period of time and experience has taught me so.

07-13-2008, 03:00 AM
I can easily get the form and flow laid out with splines in many cases far quicker then I can with any form of SubD modeling. I can easily see the form and flow before I create any polys.I can easily tweak or change the splines etc. I also get a nice even poly density that is hard to get any other way.Heres an example:

07-13-2008, 03:49 AM
Well jeez! We can go back on forth over theory forever. I can honestly not think of a single situation where I would ever resort to spline patch modeling as a starting point for sub patches. I really can't.

Doesn't that make you sound closed minded? I can think of several cases, and have in fact used used spline patches to get good bases for mechanical objects. Sure, when it comes to free modelling, I go for Subpatches every time, but for objects which have specific lines I need to follow, spline patches (using easy spline) give me a good mesh density with very few points, making them easier to control than subpatches, which require holding points.

I'm not attacking you, but your words seem harsher than you claim them to be.

07-13-2008, 06:42 AM
Lary - great example.

Dodgy - point taken. It does sound close minded when you take it out of context. Not intended. I think I made my point though. No point in going around about it.

So my technique is simple here. You could do it several ways of course and as Larry pointed out, you can clearly start with a mesh such as that. Spline patches won't give you a mesh like that. You have to do it step at a time - just a note for newbees. You have to then connect and weld sections. It gives you mass if that is important to you then that is one way you could do it.

However once you get past that and you are not worried about volume you might try what I do.

First I just concentrate on getting a decent polyflow. Then I pull out the volume. Just like spline patches there is a technique to this. I am not giving it all here. I do have a tutorial on it, "Creating Contour" in the lightwiki. Link in my sig.

When you do it this way you realize that it takes just as much time to edit splines and get a volume as it does if you already had basic polyflow. The main tool I use is the drag net tool along with a few other techniques but it is intuitive and simple - to me. And it saves many steps in the process and gets me working as an artist more to the point right away.

Part of the inspiration for this came from doing Larry's free head tutorial where he basically does the same thing only from the front view.

There were a few other threads and artists who sort of pioneered this idea. I adopted it at more or less the same time.

Obviously this example is far from complete it is just s sample of the technique.

07-13-2008, 10:09 AM
Spline patches won't give you a mesh like that. You have to do it step at a time - just a note for newbees. You have to then connect and weld sections. It gives you mass if that is important to you then that is one way you could do it.

Do you saw mine brief tutorial how to box-spline-model car using EasySpline??
Starting at post #20..

With spline-modeling you have far far less points to care of, than in any other modeling technique..

On this picture you have full model and just 427 points (one point taken by EasySpline, second point taken by VirtualMirror)..
If you want to change something, just drag any of these yellow or red points, and spline-patches will follow it.. Like this happens with Sub-D.. But EasySpline patches, in contrary to Sub-D, are always passing through controlling them splines, giving you always the best matching result, instead of rough interpolation of sub-patch cage.. You can treat it as yet another Sub-D algorithm! There are Spline Lathe, Spline Extrude.. With them you can even forget that there are splines in layer.. ;)

07-13-2008, 11:07 AM
With spline-modeling you have far far less points to care of, than in any other modeling technique..

On this picture you have full model and just 427 points (one point taken by EasySpline, second point taken by VirtualMirror)..

I see then you are saying that there are 427 points you are editing at any given time for that car example. That is a cool plugin. If you want to work with splines it is very cool.

07-14-2008, 01:17 AM
So now that I am not exhausted I had time to further explain.

Looking at these images I have drawn arrows on the first two. This is what I mean about getting to the point as an artist. If I am going from reference I can clearly see the parts of the model I want to have poly flow and how. In the first picture I show this. I can see in my mind where the flow needs to go. There is no mystery. I don't have to have the mass of the head to know that there will be a jaw line a cheek line, an edge loop around the eyes, a flow of polys around the head etc. I can see this.

So with add edges merge polys and the drag tool primarily I very quickly - say in about 15 to 30 minutes sketch out the poly flow.

You don't have go as far as this, you can just put some simple control lines in and then pull out some mass if you want, then add more edges to get the poly flow. With a full developed nose you need to do this anyway.

In the next pictures you can see a glimpse of the technique of pulling out the mass.

Usually I will select everything but the center points and use the dragnet tool. Then I mirror it and use Symmetry. From here it is a matter of continuing to sculpt the head and use the pictures as reference.

The last two pictures I intentionally pulled out the mesh more drastically to make a smile and a long chin. This was to illustrate how the mesh can be edited in real time with fall off using the drag net tool. In this way you can have the poly flow intact and edit it in large sections or small sections. Make broad strokes or pull one point at a time. I usually work in poly mode when doing this.

07-14-2008, 12:48 PM
Cheers to you, Surrealist, for your techniques, tutorials and lucid arguments.

(For a while it looked like you were fighting a one-man war, and I just wanted you to know I appreciate your point of view!)

07-14-2008, 08:11 PM

Thank you. It is OK, because that is the one thing that is great about this community. If you come along and have a point of view that is anything along the lines of...."the best way..." or the "only way..." you will pull people out of the woodworks to offer up opposing views. Just the nature of the beast. So I can roll with it. :) Because for the most part, this is a good thing. There are so many tools, approaches and so on, and there are so many artists with different experience that you can hardly say there is one particular way to do any one thing. And this is a great thing because often if you are saying something along these lines it usually means you are in for a big schooling. And if you need it, there is no shortage of people here far more experienced than you to dish it out.

The other factor is that some people have different needs and thus this different work flows. You can use spline patching very effectively for making objects that you will never subpatch but that you want to triple and/or subdivide as simply poly objects. This is the context in which spline patches came to be. And there are still people who model this way and will never have a need to use subpatches. There is nothing wrong with that or any other modeling technique.

Of course I never said anything that would lead anyone to believe that I thought this was wrong.

In a nut shell all I really said was the technology of spline patching is not conducive to subpatch modeling. I also said this was a general statement and it could not be an absolute. There is really no such thing as an absolute. I also said that from my experience and the techniques I developed I don't have the need for spline patching as a starting point for subpaches. And I could spend much of my time giving great examples and techniques to back this up. Even and especially for car modeling (http://www.newtek.com/forums/showthread.php?t=83878&page=2).


In the example above it is a fairly efficient polyflow for subpatches. You will simply never come close to this with spline patch modeling. That technique sends you in another direction and you spend time correcting it that could be spent creating. And as far as the point about using spline patches to follow exact paths. That point is moot. Because subpatches move the surface away from the placed points so you loose that precision and if that is absolutely necessary to you then spline patching and tippling might be the way to go.

And so I also said that once you see the light with subpatch modeling, you'll never go back. This is because I have actually helped people see the light. I Have watched the light bulb go off as they actually get it. That's kind of cool and why I spend so much time doing it. I just love seeing great modeling.

And the reason I said that big bold statement is because as an artist, you sometimes have to say, you know what? I am finished with stretching my own canvas, painting my own gesso (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesso) on the raw canvas. I don't need to mix paint anymore. And I don't need to use a color chart and plan out every color. Because now I understand how this all works and I should be spending my time painting. And as you go along you start dropping the things that are not necessary and take away from production.

And this is an individual thing. No one can tell you when it is right to do this. But I don't mind pointing people in this direction. This is how artistic techniques develop. This is why people teach. This is why it is faster to learn something from somebody who has done it. They can steer you through the various pitfalls. And that is why people become students.

But if you don't agree with me I don't mind. I would really hate it if people just said "Gee OK..." and did not investigate it. And the same goes for anyone who would just mock me rather than actually take a close look at my techniques and ask themselves if there is something to learn. Try some stuff out. You could walk away and say tisk! Not for me. But on the positive side you might just say, hey, he has a point. I can see that. The upside is in the long run it might save you some time.

But, even in artistic circles there are different schools and techniques. People can spend countless hours arguing over the best way to teach or to do something. I am only promoting my method, my school if you will. This is another reason people will oppose what I say. It is just the way it is. People have their ideas and they have just as much right to their opinions as I do. So just because some people don't agree is no reason for me to stop saying what I say or stop teaching the way I teach. For me it is a continuous learning process. I get something from all of it. Because this is how I learned.

Happy modeling to all!


sean hargreaves
07-14-2008, 11:32 PM

I'm going nuts with this robot I'm making using subpatches. I box modelled the whole thing!!!! Its looking great!

I've been adding cutlines all day, tedious, yet with great results.

Once I'm done I'll render a scene to get comments.

Thanks for the help.

S :thumbsup:

07-15-2008, 12:10 AM
Great man. It would be cool to see the wires too. But anxious to see what you've done in either case.

07-15-2008, 08:24 AM
I don't know you keep talking like spline patching and subdivision modeling are two separate things when to me splines are just another tool to get the polys I need to subpatch.

To each there own I guess. :)

07-15-2008, 08:49 AM
For me they go hand in hand. I find it quite easy to use basic splines to layout the form and flow before I create any polys. When I create the polys from splines I get a nice even poly density as well as the curvature. In LW subds are controlled by Polys and when you bandsaw/knife/cut thru the mesh it tends to flatten out so you have to spend time restoring the curvature. This continues up until a certain point and takes extra time. With splines I can generally avoid most of that up front tweaking and start detailing.
Heres an old alien character I did using very simple splines to layout the polys.
The head cage:

The finished head:

The torso cage:

The finished torso and head:

The bottom line for me is that it would be very difficult to get the nice smooth features using SubDs alone and the flow as well. Once I laid out the splines the rest is downhill. I create the polys, turn on subds, pick the polys in each area and detail. I use splines where they make the best sense and in the best way. I typically dont use splines for detailing. I always like to work from a primitive. Some people start with a box etc. When I create a basic polygonal shape using splines, THAT is the primitive I start with. :)

07-15-2008, 08:54 AM
Well I'm glad I'm not alone in still using splines. It's a beautiful thing to have all these different options and methods to get to the end result. Use the one that is fastest and most intuitive to you.

07-15-2008, 08:59 AM
I couldnt live without splines. I tend to also mix them with my use of polys. I can pick points off existing geometry create splines and keep building up the mesh.

07-15-2008, 09:09 AM
I couldnt live without splines. I tend to also mix them with my use of polys. I can pick points off existing geometry create splines and keep building up the mesh.

Yeah I've used that technique alot as well. building splines from points and then creating geometry of those splines. Works really great.

07-15-2008, 10:29 AM
That's a great model Lary and a very cool technique. Your examples of course and your teaching style are always top notch as I have said many times. And I love your ideas about picking splines off the model I found that baseball tutorial very cool example of that.

I also like working with primitive shapes, how I create them will be different from project to project of course, and I am still working that out on a project by project basis. Nothing is set in stone for me it is an artistic process I learn something new everyday.

I show a very simple way to draw on a primitive shape here in this tutorial (http://www.lightwiki.com/Creating_Contour). The primitive shape is of course made from a flat poly, but if you want you could use a simple spline cage as a start. Only difference here is the shape I create is already set for subpatches. With a spline patch you'd have to rearrange the polys and that is an extra step.

What I do for each project is I look at it and I try to decide how is the best way to get the basic shape of the thing to start and also what is going to be the shortest path polyflow wise. That is really the only thing I look at. I don't care what the technique is. I don't care if it is spline cadges, or a disc or a whatever even booleans. The more I started looking at polyfow as the main thing, the less I started looking at spline patching specifically - not splines in general as a tool. That is all. But I have also kind of phased out box modeling for the same reason.

This project here started as a lathed primitive shape because that made the most sense.



These heads all were created by starting using one flat poly from the profile only. What I had done was pulled out just some basic control points up to enough detail to give me the mass of the head and the basic shape and detail and then worked it from there.




Andyjaggy - as long as tools are working for you to do it the fastest way you know how then you should never feel like you are doing it the wrong way. On the flip side never stop experimenting and trying new things. :)

07-15-2008, 01:18 PM
Then I was thinking about it and remembered this whole project I worked on for a while as an entirely different experiment. The reasons I was doing it at that time are not important. But what I learned from it is. In these head examples all but the last one came from the first example as a "primitive". The last example was the same primitive before I reduced quite a few of the polygons. And on that note these head studies are not polyfow studies in any way. They could be much less dense for one. But what I was doing was the key here. I was taking just one tool. The drag net tool and using it to sculpt the first head shape into as many wide variations as I could without having to adjust the polyflow, or build a new head from scratch. There were many things I learned from doing this, not the least of which was the balance of form on a character head.

But all of that aside, the main thing I took from this was that form is a completely separate concept from polyflow or anything else. Now I don't mean that you should not direct your polyflow based on the form. I only mean that form and creating polyflow can be two separate actions. And they are in themselves two completely different techniques. And you don't have to have mass, form whatever you want to call it before you have polyflow.

And the way it is most often taught is that you create polyflow and form at the same time. This is how box modeling works. The idea of creating form first with primitives is extremely valid because it at least gets you to separate the two actions.

This head here below was the base for the head objects I attached. It was created on a flat polygon and wrapped around into a sphere shape and then connected. I think I added the ears after the fact. What I did was took this polyflow and sculpted it into the first head below. Then the other heads were made from that.


This is all to simply drive home this idea that you can edit form on your object fluidly and on the fly. And in so doing this you eliminates many many tedious steps. I soon began to apply this out to other areas and types of objects.

So again, spline patches help you with creating form. If that is what you want to do fine. But you don't have to. You really don't. You can take any object and form it any way you want, on the fly with everything connected. With spline patch modeling you have to repatch or buy a plugin like easy spline and even then you are somewhat limited. If you like sculpting and feeling like your object can and will go in any direction at any time and you can mold big bulges little crevices anything you can imagine, without having to have all of that planned then you can see where this can go. Then you can apply that to other things such as cars as well. You realize you don't have to create the form fist. You don't have to be slave to form. You can do that with other techniques as you go or once at the end. It depends on the project. And what I mean by form in this instance is the character traits of the model. The budges of the cheeks the over all shape of the head the shape and form of the nose, jaw etc. All the things you would normally have to plan in advance to a greater or lesser degree depending on your technique.